Ex-ministers, chairmen face arrest *LINK*
Posted By: News In Response To: Summons for former UNC ministers (News)
Date: 6, March 04, at 7:46 a.m.
In Response To: Summons for former UNC ministers (News)
Ex-ministers, chairmen face arrest - $120M airport robbery
By RIA TAITT, Newsday TT
Investigators have found that approximately $120 million out of the total $1.6 billion allocated to the taxpayer-funded airport was converted to private use.
The $120 million was allegedly stolen in respect of contracts, the total value of which amounted to $1.2 billion, sources stated. In one situation, a former minister between July 1999 and December 1999 had $2,592,012.59 transferred to his personal account. In another transaction, another former minister, in August 1999, had $150,000 and $130,000 transferred to clear his credit card debts at a local commercial bank. In another case, money was not sent to an account, but was used to pay expenses incurred in London.
Sources reiterated yesterday that 15 persons are to be arrested as a result of the investigations into the $1.6 billion airport project. Among those to be apprehended are four former ministers, four former chairmen and businessmen. Sources stated that investigators were just “dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s and that the arrests were imminent. However, UNC officials continue to scoff at such reports. Senator Sadiq Baksh said yesterday that he had no dummy companies. He charged that the reports were part of the PNM’s attempt to tarnish the image of the UNC as well as an effort to divert public attention away from the rising crime and high prices.
Ironically the man’s whose investigations are the basis of the arrest — Canadian forensic accountant, Bob Lindquist — has been the subject of persistent questions by UNC MPs, particularly Senator Baksh, in the Senate over the past few weeks. On January 20, Baksh, attempting to expose the sums of money being spent on the investigation, questioned the Attorney General extensively about Lindquist’s fees and the money paid to any companies of Lindquist which the Government had engaged.
The AG then revealed that prior to February 2003, Lindquist received US$325.55 per hour but had a 4.6 percent increase in hourly rates after that date. Lindquist was also paid a retainer of US$20,000 as well as a separate fee for the “work product” Jeremie said. On last Tuesday’s Order Paper, there were more questions from Baksh. He asked the Attorney General to provide the Senate with a detailed breakdown on a monthly basis of all payments made to Mr Lindquist or companies owned or affiliated by him from the date he was first engaged to December 31, 2003.
He also asked the AG to state the name of the country and date of the incorporation of the company owned by Mr Lindquist. The AG stated that he needed at least three weeks to collate this information. And next Tuesday, Senator Wade Mark has more questions for Attorney General John Jeremie on Lindquist. Mark wants to know who instructed Lindquist and/or companies owned by or affiliated to him to continue the investigation into the Piarco Airport project on or about January 2002.
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